Le Nil Bleu: A review

February 25, 2008 at 9:40 am (Restaurant review)

I’d not heard good things about this Ethiopian restaurant but it’s right around the corner from me and it was raining and cold and I love Ethiopian so I figured I’d give it a shot. The vegetarian selection was a bit shorter than I’m used to, but sufficient.

I ordered the Vegetarian combination plate (spicy) and the Ethiopian tea. My tea came first. It wasn’t hot enough, and the cardamom/ginger flavor was weak. The combination plate was quite large, plenty for two people even. It came with yellow lentils, red lentils, a cabbage/potato dish, spinach, and a small amount of vegetable salad and two bites of a lentil salad. The injera was lukewarm–I know that is traditional in Ethiopia but I prefer it served hot. It was a light brown color, as if it had some teff in it, but was pretty much tasteless, and unusually sticky. The spinach had no detectable spice of any sort, but plenty of oil. It wasn’t unpleasant if you mixed it with something less oily. The potato and cabbage was even more tasteless than usual. The red lentils, which are usually my favorite, were a surprisingly bright shade of red, rather than their usual pinkish/orangish red. They had an okay (if inauthentic) flavor, but were extremely salty. I sort of suspect that in an effort to make them spicier than normal they added more of their seasoning mix, which has salt already added, and ended up with something over spiced and over salted. They yellow lentils, on the other hand, were the one dish I thought was better than average. They were very well seasoned and not too salty. The salad was fine but I wished there was more of it. The cold lentil salad was also nice, at least the 2 bites of it.

I’ve eaten in a lot of Ethiopian restaurants since I first fell in love with Ethiopian food in Seattle. Since then I’ve tried Ethiopian in Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York. None were anything special, but the food at The Blue Nile is probably the worst of the bunch. And it’s more expensive than the others to boot!

The ambience, however, was quite lovely. There were palm? fronds on the ceiling shaped into what I assume are meant to be Ethiopian-styled roofs, which gave one the feeling of eating in a hut. There is a waterfall, and african statues, fake plants, and soft but not-too-dark lighting. There are two booths near the waterfall with their own overhead lights, which are out of the way of the front door (i.e. warmer) and very cozy and private looking. The only downsides to the atmosphere were the strange choice of music (not at all traditional Ethiopian), the regular telephone rings, and the occasional loud grinding noises of what I assume was an espresso maker.

The service was quite inattentive. It took me a long time to get the waiter’s attention, to place my order, to get the check, to get change, etc. Then when they finally brought me my change, they brought me two five dollar bills. I guess they wanted me to tip them five bucks? For terrible service on a bill under twenty dollars? It irked me.

Nonetheless, despite all my complaints, I suspect I’ll be back, at least one more time. The only Ethiopian restaurant in Montreal which I’ve heard good things about just closed, and it’s just too convenient to stay away. I’ll probably try coming with a friend and rather than ordering the sampler just ordering the yellow lentils and a salad. I’m guessing those two dishes will be plenty for two people, and only come to about CAD$9 a person. I’ll come when I want a nice leisurely meal, and maybe when it’s too cold or rainy to venture out further from home.

1 Comment

  1. Vincci said,

    I completely agree with your review! I don’t know why people rave about Le Nil Bleu.

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